The BBC is reporting that rock/soul singer Joe Cocker has died at his home in Colorado. He was 70 years old. According to his agent Barrie Marshall, Cocker was suffering from an undisclosed illness. The Yorkshire Post reports that Cocker had been battling lung cancer.
Born in Sheffield, England, Cocker got his start in music by performing at the pubs and clubs in his hometown under the name of Vance Arnold & The Avengers. After recording one single for Decca Records (a cover of The Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead”), Cocker dropped his stage name and performed with different groups before going solo in 1967. Cocker had a minor hit with “Marjorine” before reaching cultural ubiquity with his soulful re-arrangement of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.” The song made Cocker into a superstar, and it is still regarded as a standard to this day, thanks in small part to its use in the sitcom The Wonder Years.
In the 1970s, Cocker’s success continued with the formation of the group Mad Dogs & Englishmen and the hit album of the same name. After a brief hiatus from the stage in 1971, Cocker returned to the studio and stage and became a live fixture for the rest of the decade. Cocker topped the charts again in 1982 with “Up Where We Belong,” a duet with Jennifer Warnes that was used in the film An Officer And A Gentleman.
Cocker received the OBE in 2007. His last performance was at the Hammersmith in London in June.